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Academic and vocational qualifications: What lies ahead?

The fragilities highlighted during the pandemic have reignited the debate around whether our current approach to examination is fit-for-purpose. Sarah Hannafin suggests it isn't and sounds a particular warning about on-going changes to the vocational qualification landscape


Today general qualifications (GQs), including GCSEs and A levels, are linear qualifications assessed through a series of terminal exams taken at the end of (usually) a two-year curriculum with the exception of a small number of qualifications which still contain an element of non-exam assessment (NEA).

Vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs), which include BTECs, T levels and other Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications, are assessed in a more continuous, modular manner. Students are assessed throughout the duration of their course, completing work that contributes to an overall final grade.

The qualification landscape has not always looked like this. GQs historically boasted more modular structures and contained more NEA than they do today.

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